Yelp is one of the largest community based review sites for restaurants. It’s a trusted source for millions, and as such, positive and negative reviews can have a big impact on restaurant bottom lines. The importance of the site has given rise to many fake reviews, referred to as “astroturfing” written by business owners and reputation management firms. Yelp has an algorithm which keeps out the majority of these reviews though some manage to make it through:
Michael Luca of the Harvard Business School and Georgios Zervas of Boston University investigated a large subset in Boston:
Luca and Zervas analyzed 316,415 reviews for 3,625 Boston-area restaurants written between 2004 through 2012, all of which Yelp had already flagged as potentially fraudulent. These “filtered” reviews about 25 percent of the 42 million total reviews submitted for all businesses. Luca and Zervas found 16 percent of reviews for Boston restaurants weren’t legitimate. Article Source
The majority of the fake reviews were made by restaurants with a weak reputation. Chain restaurants were less likely to write fake reviews. “Those that faced more regional competition might write positive reviews for themselves and leave negative reviews for competitors.”
Despite the issues I use Yelp frequently. What sites do you use before patronizing a business?